After finally getting around to watching “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, which I did after DVR-ing it earlier this week (of course I know how to do that, why are you smirking?), it got your friendly bartender to thinking. And not so much about the merits of the movie or lack thereof according to many critics, but about this person typically called the Wall Street Guy. You know, the pin-striped, Rolex-ed, hair-slicked-back, cigar wielding, loud talking, future master of the universe. That guy who dutifully learns his labels in clothing, toys and scotches, at a rate commensurate with his rung on the corporate ladder, then applies those tastes to his world as he grows to afford them. In other words, not the real life Gordon Gekko but the guy on the rise who wants to be Gordon Gecko… the so-called “wannabe”. And as I watched this movie unfold the other night, seeing those very same types, I found myself reliving a long ago nightmare.
See, back in the early nineties the place where I work was packed to the gills with finance people. Almost every night. And these so-called freaking wannabe’s, along of course with the “made-it” types who knew how to act in a bar, both men and women, were exactly what I had to deal with when I came on duty. A situation loathed. For this was a time when the money was flowing and the cocaine for some as well, which managed to sprinkle extra fuel on the fire. These guys were not only drunk they were drunk, loud and stoned… the dreaded trifecta!
Now it wasn’t so bad for the day man as he took on this uptick gradually, handling these people in stages as they walked in the door, but when I came on at seven o’clock the bar was already full… a clamoring clutch all stoked like a vibrating mob scene. With amplifiers. For they didn’t just speak their orders at that point they screamed their orders my way, and in language I dare say not usually spoken from the Lotus position. “Bartender, yo, bartender,” I’d hear from clear down the bar, “it’s as dry as a fucking desert, how ’bout some drinks, man?” Or to gales of frat boy laughter, “Innkeeper, innkeeper, wine and fresh horses for my men, whaddaya’ say, pal???” And on it went.
And when you finally did go to water those plants and to hold that onslaught at bay, here’s the kind of order you’d hear from the alpha cactus… “Give us six Heineken’s, okay? And six fucking shooters of Oban and put it on my tab.” (Shooters of Oban??? As if you slam down Oban just like a Lemon Drop. Or a Kamikaze!) Yeah, these guys had their labels down pat all right, they just didn’t know how to read them, “shooting” a single malt scotch is like skimming Dostoyevsky. Why bother? But bother they did and damn sure they bothered yours truly.
But that was just part of it. There was, “Give us twenty in ones for this, man,” seemingly every ten seconds, “we’re playing liar’s poker and need some new cards.” Or the too frequent spilling of drinks on the bar as the hugging, high-fives and chest bumping buttoned each point made. Like we were a locker room. And of course being competitive by nature, which is what they had to be to do what they did, disagreement was a form of fun for these guys so they battled each night like attorneys at war while your un-friendly bartender battled just to stay afloat.
The only saving grace from those days, looking back on that miserable blur, was the fact that these people spent like sailors on leave. Rich sailors! It wasn’t uncommon for a guy to leave a fifty dollar tip on a hundred, if for no other reason than he saw it as part of the performance. In the role of a big shot. Because just like in the movies… he had on the costume, he knew all the lines, and the script said he had to leave big or he wasn’t in character. And he wanted that role.
But, Man I’m glad those days are gone, I thought as I watched this movie, money be damned I’d rather get out with my sanity. And my serenity. For the people who come to our bar these days, some of whom still are in finance, are a joy to serve because none of that bullshit goes on. They respect both the place and themselves which is as it should be. And not for nothing, everyone still does well at our place… quality volume more than makes up for the big shots.
Though I can’t help wondering…
Are the guys they say now “too big to fail” the same guys I knew who were then too big for their britches? And are the guys now sitting in the corner offices the same ones who sat in our can where they blasted their nostrils? And finally, are the guys who drove me crazy along with every other bartender in New York who catered to this element, the same guys who drove the economy almost off the cliff? Well, since those characters don’t come around any more I guess I’ll never know, all I know is I’m glad that movie has ended.
As has this post.
See you next week-end, dear reader, have yourself a good one.